The father of a junior doctor killed when her car veered off the road, after a string of night-shifts, has said that the system in place to check junior doctors hours is still "open to manipulation" in Scotland.

Brian Connelly addressed MSPs at a cross party meeting in the Scottish Parliament, on "looking after those who look after us".

The College has consistently argued for the safe design of rotas, to help deliver safe and effective care, while protecting the wellbeing of doctors and multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs). 

Commenting in the Herald, Professor Derek Bell said:

Fatigue continues to pose a significant risk of harm to junior doctors, impacting on both professional and personal aspects of their lives. Lauren Connelly’s tragic death, after a nightshift, shows how important it is that junior doctors are afforded proper rest periods and rest environments.

The design and delivery of rotas for junior doctors is key to the safe delivery of care and the wellbeing of the doctors themselves. As such, rota design should be a priority for all hospitals, with effective monitoring of compliance. Diary monitoring is potentially prone to problems in terms of recording and interpretation, and may be considered sub-optimal.   

NHS Scotland could implement a process of exception reporting – or alternative robust system - outside and unrelated to the contract of employment, to allow Scottish doctors to have parity of reporting with their colleagues in England. Exception reporting already allows doctors in England to quickly and easily flag up if their actual workload has varied from their agreed work schedule.

Every effort must be made to ensure that rotas are improved overall in NHS Scotland.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658